A Spellbinding Story
The strategically situated lands of Turnberry, favoured with vast views of portentous seas since before recorded time, have beheld a thousand tales. The birth of a legendary leader, Robert the Bruce. Wars against ancient kings of England and the two World Wars of the 20th Century. The favourite new game of golf, played on naturally occurring courses. The first purpose-planned golfing resort in Britain, with an iconic hotel that houses travellers on romantic getaways to its therapeutic shores to this day. Epic links that were built, destroyed and rebuilt again.
Turnberry is known by its talismans-prehistoric islands, medieval ruins, stalwart beacons. They are symbols of the charmed, inexplicable things that can happen there: the impossible chip; the lost dream, found.
Its hauntingly beautiful moors and cliffs stir the emotions, uplift the spirit and call ceaselessly to those who have gone-part of golf's hallowed ground, but part of a much broader history as well.
"Where could they find such a glorious combination of picturesque grandeur by land and sea? Every mile, there was some hallowed spot, immortalised by the heroism of Bruce or the genius of Burns." - Station Hotel dedication speech, Turnberry, 17 May 1906
The Lighthouse & Ailsa Craig
PERPETUAL AILSA CRAIG
A volcanic island half a billion years old, Ailsa Craig has borne witness to countless events throughout history and prehistory from its station in the Firth of Clyde. Once a haven for Roman Catholics during the 15th century Scottish Reformation, the island was quarried for its rare stone in the 19th and 20th centuries. Long ago disused and utterly uninhabited, Ailsa Craig still stands eleven miles out to sea, presiding over the links at Turnberry, another of its mysteries.
THE ICONIC TURNBERRY LIGHTHOUSE
Standing at 24 metres high, with 76 steps to the top, the Turnberry Lighthouse has marked this coastline since 1873. Rising from the mists to greet ships for over a hundred years, this quintessential icon is one of Turnberry's most powerful charms.
Originally commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board to warn passing vessels away from nearby Bristo Rock, the lighthouse is the oldest man-made structure on the Turnberry premises-with the exception of the remains of the 13th-century castle of Robert the Bruce that it marks.The initial plan to erect the lighthouse on the Rock itself proved too dangerous so instead Turnberry Point was chosen. The foundations of the lighthouse stand in what was the moat of Turnberry Castle, thought to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce in 1274.
The first light beamed across the waters on 30 August 1878, showing one flash every 12 seconds and, in line with all UK lighthouse’s, was automated in 1986.
THE TURNBERRY LIGHTHOUSE TODAY
Since Summer 2016 the Turnberry Lightouse is also home of what is already classed as the best halfway house of the world and a luxurious two bedroom suite. Elegant in its décor and grand in its aura, it offers breathtaking views across the Irish sea to the Isle of Arran and beyond.With two bedrooms, each with its own private balcony, the rooms are tastefully decorated in rich mahogany, gold leaf and complemented by indigenous fabrics and furnishings. The Turnberry Lighthouse Suite also features a private sitting room with a dining table and a games table.
Hotel to Resort
Over 100 Years of History
Though it is known today as Trump Turnberry, the life of the Station Hotel that began in 1906 continues.
In the mid-twentieth century, when Turnberry was owned by British Transport Hotels (BTH), there was a national concern that the upkeep of this established, luxurious hotel would not be maintained. After a number of disappointing years of low occupancy, BTH placed Turnberry on the market. Over the next few decades, a number of different proprietors made significant investments in guest rooms, conference amenities and spa facilities that raised Turnberry's profile. In particular, Turnberry's dedicated centre for health and relaxation was extremely innovative when it was introduced in the 1980s-and put the resort on the modern-day map.
The new millennium brought a new owner: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Starwood's vision for Turnberry included a variety of improvements. The red-roofed houses by the roadside, originally built as staff accommodation, have been converted into guest lodges offering space and seclusion to large groups. The state-of-the-art Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy and the newly-built Kintyre course commenced operations. And the Outdoor Activity Centre-which allows guests to make the most of Turnberry's 800 acres, and the Ayrshire countryside beyond-has completed Turnberry's transformation from a largely seasonal, golf-focused resort to a year-round destination with an abundance of activities that appeal to a wide audience.
Leisurecorp, the Dubai World investment company, took ownership of Turnberry in October 2008 and closed the hotel immediately for a dramatic renovation ahead of the 138th Open Championship in July 2009. Internationally-renowned interior designer Mary Fox Linton lead the renovation, which, with the help of a heritage consultant, saw the 103-year-old hotel restored to the vision of its original architect while accommodating the needs of the modern guest. After this extensive renewal project the property became a member of Starwood's The Luxury Collection® portfolio.
In 2014, The Trump Organization purchased the hotel and set to work making it the finest golf and spa resort in the world. With an investment of £200m, the hotel was lovingly restored and the Ailsa course was transformed at the hands of renowned golf course architect, Martin Ebert. Since 2014, the Clubhouse has been renovated, a new golf course, King Robert the Bruce was unveiled and an opulent ballroom was added to the footprint of the resort. Throughout all this, Trump Turnberry continues to offer one of the top golf and resort experiences in the world.
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE STATION HOTEL
Golf at Turnberry was a secret treasured only by locals until railway companies began to develop Scotland's magnificent landscape into attractions that would lure travellers to the countryside and require a ride on their trains. The dream of escaping the bustling city for the high life inspired day-trippers, weeklong boarders and families to visit seaside resorts all over England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and so the South-Western Railway built its line from Ayr to Girvan, and the Station Hotel at Turnberry.
On 17 May 1906, the resort opened, offering luxury rarely seen on such a scale at the time. With its electric lighting, central heating, hot and cold running water, and saltwater plunge baths, the Station Hotel offered a rare glimpse into a whole new way of living. Designed by a talented young architect, James Miller, the hotel at Turnberry was necessarily grand, but intentionally unostentatious. The classic combination of white plasterwork and red pan tile roof is still part of the iconography of Turnberry today. Inside, opulent appointments were specified throughout, and little expense was spared. Service was of an equally high standard, with teams of maids, butlers, cleaners, cooks, liverymen and boilermen comfortably outnumbering the guests. Though it has been dramatically modernised, guests at Turnberry today still stay in the same graceful building that early 20th century travellers did, and are attended to with the same pleasing service
Lure of the Early Links
Modern golf dates back to 1751 in Girvan, the birthplace of the game, less than ten miles from Turnberry. Along Scotland's Sunshine Coast, the links between land and sea were nature's own courses, and the pastime was well loved. However, a lack of formal transportation made travel difficult and contests informal, local affairs. Without any permanent settlement to support the game at Turnberry, golf would remain absent in those parts for another 150 years.
Archibald Kennedy, the Third Marquess of Ailsa (Lord Ailsa), owned Turnberry's 76,000 acres and denied two attempts to establish a formal club on his land. It wasn't until 1896 that Lord Ailsa, a keen golfer and an active member of the South-Western Railway board, saw the financial opportunity of building a course at Turnberry and a train line from Ayr to Maidens, Turnberry and Girvan.
On 6 July 1901, the first man-made links, designed by Willie Fernie, were opened for play at Turnberry. The Clubhouse followed soon after, with a match between two teams headed by the Club Captain and Vice Captain to mark the occasion.
Though the course opened four years before the railway came to be, it was an immediate success. As the longest in the west of Scotland at 6,248 yards, Turnberry was so well regarded that after just seven years, it held its first professional tournament and attracted a strong field that included the reigning Open champion, Arnaud Massey. Several other significant tournaments were held at Turnberry during that time, including the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship of 1912.
"The important new golf links at Turnberry, adjacent to Turnberry Castle and lighthouse on the Ayrshire coast, was opened for play on Saturday last week. The more one sees of the links serves to confirm the impression that the course will one day be among the finest in the kingdom." - Golf Illustrated article
The awe-inspiring view from Bain's Hill was sadly different during Turnberry's years as a military air base. Pressed into service during The Great War because of its strategic coastal location, Turnberry's waving greens and dunes were levelled to make way for airstrips, hangers and huts. There, the Royal Flying Corps trained pilots in the arts of aerial gunnery and combat and the wounded convalesced at Turnberry Hotel. Turnberry at war was a far cry from the pleasure park it had been during its grand and glorious decades.
When peace came, the damage to the resort was repaired, and in 1923, Turnberry's No. 2 course benefitted from a substantial redesign by the acclaimed James Braid; three years later, the No. 1 course was revised to increase its length and improve play. At this time, both were rechristened with the more romantic names-Ailsa and Arran, respectively-that are used today. A memorial to honour those lost still remains on the hill overlooking the 12th green of The Ailsa.
War was declared against Germany in 1939, and soon it was again difficult to imagine that Turnberry had ever been anything but an airfield. The hotel was commissioned as a hospital afresh, and the courses were converted into a Royal Air Force flying school. It is thought that as many as 200 died at Turnberry, and the heavier aircraft and machinery of the Second World War damaged the grounds even more severely than those of the First.
During the three uncertain years that Turnberry was under the command of the Ministry of War, the railways were nationalized and some feared that the thousands of tonnes of concrete spread across its hills would be the end of Turnberry. Happily, Frank Hole-the chairman of British Transport Hotels, a subsidiary of the British Railways Board that had just taken ownership of Turnberry-invited Suttons, the seed and merchant grass specialists, to oversee the restoration of the celebrated links.
"The training involved very low flying mainly over the sea carrying a torpedo and bombs in the twin engine Handley Page Hampden aircraft. It was not an occupation for the fainthearted." - Jack Davenport, Wing Commander and Instructor at Turnberry